Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Spain hit Croatia for six

Published:Wednesday | September 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Spain’s Nacho Fernandez (second right) celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s fourth goal during the UEFA Nations League against Croatia at the Manuel Martínez Valero stadium in Elche, Spain, yesterday.

MADRID (AP):

Luis Enrique couldn't have asked for a much better start as coach of Spain's national team. Two matches, two convincing wins against top opponents in the UEFA Nations League.

Spain followed their gritty 2-1 win against England at Wembley Stadium last week with a 6-0 rout of World Cup runner-ups Croatia yesterday, keeping Enrique perfect since taking over as La Roja's coach.

It was the biggest defeat ever for Croatia, playing their first competitive game since reaching the World Cup final in Russia.

The victory left Spain comfortably ahead in Group 4 of the top-tiered League A in Europe's newest football competition, in good position to reach the tournament's final four in June.

In the other League A match on Tuesday, Belgium won 3-0 at Iceland in their Nations League debut.

The Nations League gives UEFA's 55 member countries competitive games and eliminates often meaningless friendlies.

Luka Modric's Croatia threatened early in the southeastern Spanish city of Elche, but Spain took control of the match by scoring three goals in 11 first-half minutes.

Sa?l —Ìguez, who is becoming an undisputable starter in Enrique's team, headed in a cross by Dani Carvajal in the 24th minute, then Marco Asensio hit two remarkable long-range shots in the 33rd and 35th to give La Roja a comfortable lead before half-time. His second strike bounced off the post and the back of goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic, who was awarded an own goal.

Asensio, who was not among the starters against England, also set up Rodrigo's goal early in the second half with a perfect through ball behind the defence.

Sergio Ramos, one of the remaining members of Spain's golden generation, added the fifth goal with a header off a corner kick in the 57th minute, and Isco closed the scoring in the 70th after another set up by Asensio.

Other results: League B - Bosnia-Herzegovina 1 Austria 0; Finland 1 Estonia 0; Hungary 2 Greece 1 in Budapest.

League D - Luxembourg 3 San Marino 0; Moldova 0 Belarus 0.